2 Samuel 12:7 NKJV

Confront them!

2 Samuel 12:7 NKJV

Can you imagine the courage and integrity it took for Nathan the prophet to challenge King David about his affair with Bathsheba? Most of us tend to avoid confrontation because we fear being disliked and rejected. But when you avoid confrontation it often makes things worse. By hiding his sin, David was robbing himself of the blessing of the Lord. Looking back, he wrote, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my…prayer” (Psalm 66:18- 19 NIV 1984 Edition). The tiny growth you don’t want to deal with now can end up becoming a cancer that consumes you in the future. That’s too high a price to pay. If you love someone, you’ll take your courage in your hand and confront them in love. Confrontation is an opportunity to help develop that person-provided you do it respectfully and with their best interest at heart. Here are ten guidelines to help you confront someone in a positive way: (1) Do it ASAP. (2) Address the wrong action, not the person. (3) Address only what the person can change. (4) Give them the benefit of the doubt. (5) Be specific. (6) Avoid sarcasm. (7) Avoid saying “you always” and “you never” because they are not true. (8) When it’s appropriate, tell them how you feel about what was done wrong. (9) Give them a plan to fix the problem. (10) Affirm him or her as a person and as a friend. The Bible says, “The Lord corrects those he loves” (Proverbs 3:12 NCV). So if you love someone, you’ll confront them in the right way.

Soul food: Jer 25-27; Luk 21:1-11; Ps 72:1-11; Prov 9:1-6

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Colossians 1:27 MSG

Christ is in you (2)

Colossians 1:27 MSG

Paul writes, “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV). No other religion makes such a claim. No other movement implies the living presence of its founder in his followers. No wonder Paul refers to it as “the mystery.” We comprehend the idea of Christ for me, or with me, or ahead of me. But Paul said it’s better than that-Christ in me! In his writings Paul refers to this union with Christ 216 times. John mentions it 26 times. They describe a Christ who not only woos us to Himself, but actually “ones” us with Himself. John writes, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15 NKJV). Just as you own the home you live in, so the Christ who lives in you owns you. And when you own a home you rearrange it the way you want it. Likewise, Jesus moves in and commandeers your hands and feet, requisitions your mind and your tongue. Do you sense things being rearranged in your life today? That’s “Christ in you”! Eugene Peterson paraphrases Paul’s words this way: “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son” (Romans 8:29 MSG). Ever hear the old saying, “Making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear”? That’s what Jesus does when He takes up residence in your heart. He has a plan for your life, and He also provides the power to fulfil it. And what’s your part? To surrender and cooperate fully with Him.

Soul food: Jer 22-24; Luk 20:41-47; Ps 31; Prov 8:34-36

Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV

Christ is in you (1)

Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV

When God said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you,” you could call it “a spiritual heart transplant.” Tara Storch understands this miracle. In 2010 a skiing accident claimed the life of her thirteen-year-old daughter, Taylor. What followed for Tara and her husband, Todd, was every parent’s worst nightmare: a funeral, a burial, a flood of questions and tears. They decided to donate their daughter’s organs to needy patients. And few people needed a heart more than Patricia Winters. Her heart had begun to fail five years earlier, leaving her too weak to do much more than sleep. Taylor’s heart gave Patricia a fresh start in life. Taylor’s mom had only one request: She wanted to hear her daughter’s heartbeat. She and Todd flew from Dallas to Phoenix and went to Patricia’s home, where the two mothers embraced for a long time. Then Patricia offered Tara and Todd a stethoscope. The question is: When they listened to the healthy rhythm, whose heart did they hear? Did they not hear the still-beating heart of their daughter? It indwelt a different body, but the heart was still the heart of their child. And when God hears your heart, does He not hear the still-beating heart of His Son? Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV). The apostle sensed within himself not just the philosophy, ideals, and influence of Christ, but the person of Christ. Christ moved in-and He still does. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27 NKJV).

Soul food: Jer 18-21; Luk 20:27-40; Ps 6; Prov 8:32-33

Romans 1:12 NCV

How do you affect others?

Romans 1:12 NCV

We’ve a tendency to adopt the attitudes of the people closest to us. That’s why Paul wrote, “Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” The truth is that doubters get what they expect-and so do believers! Looking for God’s best in every situation isn’t just scriptural; it helps you identify opportunities you’d otherwise miss. Seeing people through God’s eyes causes them to be attracted to you and open in how they react. Is that important? Absolutely! Why? Because often your attitude will touch them before your message does. Management consultant Fred Smith points out that there are two kinds of people in any organization: polluters and purifiers. The polluters are like smokestacks, belching out dirty smoke all the time. They hate clear skies, and no matter how good it gets they find a way to make it gloomy. When the people around them breathe their toxins they feel sicker and sicker. Purifiers, on the other hand, make everything around them better. It doesn’t matter what kind of rotten atmosphere they encounter. They take in the toxic words of polluters just like everyone else does, but they filter them before passing them on. What goes in gloomy and negative comes out fresh and clear. The question is: When you spend time with people, do they walk away feeling better or worse? Do you clear the air by giving them encouragement and fresh perspective, or do they leave feeling downcast and discouraged? Observe how people respond to you and you’ll know which group you belong to.

Soul food: Jer 10-13; Luk 20:9-19; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29

Hebrews 10:36 NKJV

Teaching children patience (3)

Hebrews 10:36 NKJV

Do these three things: (1) Don’t be Mr. or Mrs. Quick-Fix-It. Your kids need to learn to respond the right way to difficult conditions. That means dealing with frustrations, not being rescued from them. Overprotecting produces a sense of inadequacy and powerlessness in them. By quick-fixing everything, you’ll rear children who cannot handle life. They’ll expect to be rescued from all trouble, and become overly dependent on others. The Bible says, “Troubles make us more patient” (Romans 5:3 ERV). Allow your children to experience age-appropriate challenges, and they will thank you later for the strengths and coping skills they’ve developed. (2) Prepare them to wait. When you know in advance that your child will have to wait (for instance, in a doctor’s office or an airport), help them prepare for it. “Make the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:16 NLT). Have them pack items they enjoy. Because they chose the items, they’ll feel they invested in the process. (3) Keep a positive attitude. If you constantly complain while waiting in traffic, or for someone who’s late, your children will do the same. Instead, try saying, “This delay gives us time to tell each other about our day.” Or, “Even when we feel frustrated about waiting, God’s timing is always perfect!” Teach them God’s perspective on patience: “You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong” (James 5:7 MSG).

Soul food: Jer 4-6; Luk 19:41-48; Ps 38:1-12; Prov 8:22-23

Luke 8:15 KJV

Teaching children patience (2)

Luke 8:15 KJV

Here are five more teaching tips: (1) Teach by experiment. Toddlers through “tweens” can appreciate the time it takes a plant to grow, so involve them in planting a seed and watching it grow. Explain how everything in life takes time to change and develop. Teach the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (2) Make use of visuals. Younger children especially need visuals when waiting for an event to happen. If it’s 4:30 and dinner is at 5:00, use a timer. If it’s eighteen days until the family trip to Disney World, let them mark the days off on a calendar. Often their problem with waiting is not knowing when it will end. (3) Don’t interrupt and don’t tolerate interruptions. Toddlers to teens- kids interrupt! Adults, too. Interruptions are usually a rude and frustrating display of impatience. Unless it’s an emergency, be clear: Kids-and adults-are to wait their turn to speak. It’s more than good manners-it’s obeying God’s Word. “There is…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (vv. 1, 7 NKJV). (4) Make use of board games. Most board games require taking turns, which means waiting. Your kids will hardly realize they’re practicing patience! Chess and checkers are good for tweens. Scrabble educates teenagers and teaches them patience. (5) Reward their patience. When your toddler waits for his sippy cup to be filled while you feed the baby, thank him for waiting so well. If your teen saves her money to buy an iPod, compliment her wisdom and reinforce it by perhaps donating the last few dollars to her purchase.

Soul food: Jer 1-3; Luk 19:28-40; Ps 55:12-23; Prov 8:19-21

Romans 8:25 NLT

Teaching children patience (1)

Romans 8:25 NLT

Waiting patiently is what life, God, and success demand. Even when we’ve done the right things, God requires us to wait for the results. “You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews10:36 NKJV). How do we help our children develop this vitally important life skill? Writer and mother Tammy Darling says: (1) Set clear boundaries. For instance, say, “You may have that when I’ve seen you wait patiently.” Don’t be moved by their demands! (2) Refocus their attention. Waiting in line at the store can be an occasion for impatience. So try a guessing game-like “I Spy”-with younger kids, or get older kids talking about family vacation plans. (3) Teach by example. Do you pass other motorists on the highway just to get one car-length ahead? Impulsively charge something rather than wait until you have the money to buy it? Whether they’re three or thirteen, your children learn by watching you. (4) Avoid constantly saying, “Hurry up!” Toddlers typically dawdle. They’ve no idea how long getting ready takes. So instead of always telling them to hurry, help them learn the process and pace of getting ready. “It’s time to put your toys away…time to get your shoes and socks on…time to put your jacket on.” Instead of frustrating them with commands to hustle, involve them in actions they understand and can handle. This teaches them how to manage time practically.

Soul food: Hos 11-14; Luk 19:11-27; Ps 55:1-11; Prov 8:17-18

Judges 11:35 KJV

Staying power (3)

Judges 11:35 KJV

Staying power overcomes family opposition. When Jephthah’s family disowned him and threw him out of the house, he built an army that delivered Israel from the hands of their enemies. As a result, he ended up becoming the nation’s youngest judge. When faced with the challenge to ‘fold up or hold up,’ David Livingstone demonstrated staying power. His wife, Mary, gave him so much trouble, always complaining and criticizing, that she made his life’s work almost impossible. The tension between them became so great that Livingstone sent her home to England for a period of more than twelve years while he suffered, bled, and ultimately died in Africa for the cause of Christ. When Jesus went home to Nazareth to minister to the people He grew up around, some of them tried to throw Him off a cliff. And in spite of His teachings and miracles, His family thought He was mad. Did that hurt Him? Of course. But He didn’t let it stop Him. He said: ‘Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters – yes, more than his own life – otherwise, he cannot be my disciple. And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me…don’t begin until you [first] count the cost’ (Luke 14:26-28 TLB). When your family opposes you, love them and pray for them because God can change their hearts. And until He does, keep serving Him.

Soul food: Is 39-40; Phil 1